The destruction of Derek Chisora by Tyson Fury in front of 59,000 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Saturday ended an exciting year of heavyweight action.
Thrilling knockouts, two world title contests in the UK and the retirement and subsequent return of one of the sport’s greats have made 2022 a year to remember.
But 2023 could be even better with a host of emerging contenders and potentially the first undisputed heavyweight contest in 23 years on the horizon.
What’s next for Fury?
Coming off the 24th stoppage win of his 34-fight career, Fury firmly asserted his position as the best heavyweight in the world.
There are, however, two active heavyweights the 34-year-old has yet to face – Oleksandr Usyk and Antoine Joshua.
There are positive signs that a fight with fellow undefeated world champion and IBF, WBO and WBA belt holder Usyk can be made early next year. Both parties have repeatedly said that a the agreement is “close”.
But there is also the prospect of resurrecting talks with Joshua. Negotiations in September did not give anything. After several failed attempts to reach an agreement, Fury-AJ may never arrive.
But maybe the time wasn’t right and the fight could still happen, if both sides want it. Patience as a virtue is often the bane of any boxing fan’s life, but opposing sides have never been closer to an agreement and may be able to take the required step forward in 2023.
There’s also the prospect that Fury could fight undefeated domestic rival Joe Joyce. Fury co-promoter Frank Warren certainly expects Fury and Joyce to face off one day, 2023 could be the year – especially if talks with Usyk drag on.
Fury Options: Usyk, Joshua, Joyce
Anthony Joshua vs. Dillian Whyte II
Joshua, 33, is still licking his wounds from successive defeats by Usyk but his comeback bout has been scheduled for February or March.
Dillian Whyte is an obvious competitor. Joshua shares a long history with Whyte. Their dislike for each other is well documented. Whyte has now waited seven years for a rematch of a bout as moody as it was thrilling.
Joshua and his team may think Whyte is too risky to fight for immediately after the soul-destroying loss to Usyk in August. Whyte, however, was far from impressive in his own comeback fight against Jermaine Franklin, working at a majority points win.
Joshua was seated at ringside, but there was no ringside confrontation or any real effort from either man to hype things up, suggesting that an agreement is far from being concluded.
Who are Usyk’s potential opponents?
Should Usyk vs. Fury run into a few stumbling blocks, fans would hope to see the 35-year-old Ukrainian step into the ring with the American knockout artist. Deontay Wilder.
This fight looks like a possibility in 2023 and would be a fascinating affair. Usyk’s side are notoriously easy to manage, while Wilder has proven in his three crazy encounters with Fury that he has no problem supporting himself against the best.
It’s still a bit of a fantasy fight, a lot has to happen for it to happen. Usyk would have to fight Fury, potentially twice, for Wilder to come into play.
There’s also the matter of Usyk’s proxies, which could cause a particularly eye-catching encounter. Usyk’s team say regular WBA champion Daniel Dubois is next and that would be a huge test for the 25-year-old Londoner.
Usyk options: Fury, Dubois, Filip Hrgovic, Wilder
Deontay Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua
Fury isn’t the only fighter Joshua has struggled to get a deal with in the past. In 2018 speak with Wilder began on an undisputed fight. A fight never materialized and four years later the two men are in very different positions.
Beltless and suffering career-defining losses over the past two years, Wilder-Joshua is a very different prospect in 2023, but it’s still a fight that excites fans given the punching power of both men. The fight is possible, with both men looking for a path to the world title picture.
It all depends on whether either heavyweight would be willing to accept such a risky fight with no world title on the line. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says he has cleared things up with Wilder’s team in previous discussions that had failed. Wilder turns 38 in October, Joshua’s career hangs in the balance.
A loss could mean the end of either man’s fighting days.
Joe Joyce vs. Daniel Dubois II
Away from the world title picture, Joyce could have a rematch with Dubois. The first fight garnered huge attention despite being held behind closed doors.
Dubois has since bounced back with three wins in a row, while Joyce announced himself as a serious contender in September by stopping the former world champion Joseph Parker.
George Warren of Queensberry Promotions thinks the rematch deserves to have a world title on the line and the two Britons are set to fight for the world title.
But a rematch between the pair would be fascinating and a real trump card for their promoter, Frank Warren, who may have to manage their world title expectations for perhaps another 12 months.